Security autonomy: A new perspective for understanding the practice of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong

Minxing ZHAO

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses

Abstract

This research proposes a security autonomy perspective to understand the practice of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong when it comes to security issues. Under the “one country, two systems” framework, Hong Kong can exercise security autonomy to protect its identity and society. Based on Copenhagen School’s securitization theory, security autonomy refers to the autonomy Hong Kong can exercise either as a securitizing actor to securitize issues as security threats or as audience to respond to other securitizing actor’s securitizations. Specifically, Hong Kong can securitize threats from mainland to its identity and society and adopt exceptional measures to fence off such threats. When the Central Government in Beijing securitizes issues in Hong Kong as threats to Chinese sovereignty, Hong Kong has the autonomy to take or reject such securitizations. Internationally, Hong Kong has security autonomy to respond to international securitization of terrorism and adopt its own anti-terrorism law and policy. Hong Kong’s security autonomy is generally found at the societal level, political level and international level. Security autonomy can be applied to other levels under certain conditions.
Security autonomy is not an abstract power; it is embedded in the high degree of autonomy Hong Kong already enjoys. Security autonomy provides a framework for Hong Kong to exercise its legislative autonomy, external autonomy and other related autonomy. Hong Kong’s exercise of security autonomy is an interactive process in which Beijing-Hong Kong relations unfold in a special way.
A comparison between Hong Kong and Macao is made. Macao case is used to show the uniqueness of Hong Kong’s security autonomy. Under “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong not only has security autonomy but also can exercise its security autonomy at more levels than Macao. Hong Kong’s security autonomy is higher than Macao’s security autonomy.
The degree of security autonomy at the three levels are different. Hong Kong has higher security autonomy at the societal level and lower security autonomy at the political level and international level. Three major factors explain such differences. First, Hong Kong’s vibrant civil society is vital to the exercise of security autonomy. Second, Hong Kong has its own interests and considerations to decide when to securitize what issues as security threats. Third, Beijing has strategic interests to support or tolerate Hong Kong’s exercise of security autonomy. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2017.

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